I spent about five weeks with a HelpX host in Nelson, New Zealand. Nelson is proud to be the sunniest place in New Zealand, and it did not disappoint. Nor did the views. We could look out over Tasman Bay and the Tasman Mountains. All day, every day our view was these gorgeous, dictionary-definition mountains. We could see them from our bedroom, from our dining room, from the desk I worked at, from the garden we worked in. All day, every day, those mountains over Tahananui Beach. Sunset was always especially striking; those pink clouds glowed pretty much every evening.
Overall, our work dynamic was interesting. John built a few retaining walls and generally worked quite hard. I helped with some weeding and small tasks. Mostly, though, we arranged our schedules so that I was able to do some of my indoor, freelance work while John worked extra hours outside. I helped a lot of cleaning, cooking, and feeding animals, though. And I got to house-sit for a week! I enjoyed long walks on the beach, cooking way too much food for one person, and hanging out with their cat Isis.
Traveling slowly is a funny thing. I can now get around Nelson’s CBD without a map. I know which is the easiest way to exit the supermarket’s car park. That’s indicative, I think, of slow travel – I don’t have hundreds of photos of all the in-your-face New Zealand adventure sights, but I learned a lot about Nelson’s community. I read the free weekly newspaper about students getting scholarships and election campaign signs flouting the regulations. We attended a few community events and shopped for groceries at the Saturday morning market. In the end, I will have spent half of my two months in New Zealand in the South Island, learning about one community in quirky detail. And I like that.